Learning to live with the power of the Holy Spirit will change your life. Trying to live without this power leads to a frustrating and discouraging C- life: some happiness from time to time and a bit of relaxation when times are good, but no true joy and no true peace. Jesus imparts the Holy Spirit into us when we surrender to him as our Savior, and the indwelling power that accompanies this Holy Spirit is something to behold.
Today I want to share with you the way Eugene Peterson describes this power within. I have never before dedicated an entire Putting Green to someone else’s writing, but it would be a crime for me not to pass along this most excellent example. Enjoy!
Eugene Peterson’s The Message Commentary on Romans 8:
The Christian life is not a piling on of more admonitions and rules. It’s the offer of a new Spirit – the presence of person of Christ, who dwells in us through the Holy Spirit to help us through the tension of living under the laws of morality and religion, and to bring us to eternal life.
Here’s an illustration that may help:
Suppose I decide to build a house. To begin with I am quite ignorant of what must be done, and so first I take a course in carpentry to learn the fundamentals of house building. I follow that up with some specialized reading. I get a set of blueprints and buy all the necessary tools. Then I’m ready to build my house.
One day I begin. The lumber is delivered, and I lay out the foundation. I struggle by myself day after day. As the house grows I find there are some things I had either forgotten or never knew. I find myself going back more and more to my books. Not only that, but there are a great many things I know, but when I try to do them, they don’t come out the right way. I seem to be all thumbs.
The saw doesn’t cut straight; the wood splinters.
Like other do-it-yourselfers, I’m lucky enough to have some neighbors who walk by each day and stand around to engage in small talk. These neighbors invariably have suggestions: “Hey, that wall seems to be a little out of plumb. Are you sure that’s the way to set a windowsill?”
The more suggestions they make the more nervous I get. Their constant examination of the quality of my work makes me more self-conscious of my mistakes and inadequacies. Every time my neighbors show up I feel like giving up. They are a constant reminder of my badly cut boards, bent nails and failure to follow the blueprints.
But there’s a variant in this story. And some of us have gratefully experienced it. Someone comes by and sees we are in trouble with our construction. Without criticizing and giving condescending instructions, he (The Holy Spirit) takes off his coat, rolls up his sleeves and goes to work beside us. In short order the building begins to improve, and we feel as if we’re doing something again.
In this second instance, the presence of a skilled carpenter doesn’t mean that we don’t make any more mistakes, nor does it mean we no longer feel any tension between what the house ought to be and our particular work on it. What it does mean is we’re transformed in our attitude because we have someone who comes along side us instead of remaining aloof. And when he comes, he comes not as a building inspector, but as a construction worker.
And that, of course, is what Paul’s experience was with the coming of Jesus Christ into his life. Paul, in essence, asks, “Who will do something besides increase my sense of failure and condemn me for being such a poor workman?” (see Romans 7:24)
The answer? Jesus. He will deliver us. He will come into the disarray of lumber in our lives and work beside us. He doesn’t stand over us urging better behavior and making us look up references in books. It’s so much better than that. He’s living in us through the Holy Spirit, working with us through the Holy Spirit. And that should encourage us all!